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PAX WEST 2018: Killer Queen Black Builds Its Hive On The Switch

Killer Queen Black

With the Nintendo Switch spearheading the game industry into new, uncharted waters, many developers are introducing new kinds of games and gameplay styles to the hybrid platform. As the system approaches its second year, it is undeniable that the Nintendo Switch has changed how we see video games at home and on-the-go.

The world of competitive gaming has noticed the potential of the Switch to be a competitive gaming platform. Developers, such as Georgia-based Hi-Rez studios, has recently released Paladins on the system, receiving commercial acclaim.

Entering the competitive gaming arena is LiquidBit Games, with their stellar smash hit, Killer Queen Black. The competitive PvP game is making its way to the Nintendo Switch by the end of the year, and I had my first chance to try the game out for myself at PAX WEST, at the prestigious PAX RISING booth.  After playing Killer Queen Black, the game definitely earned its position at the event.

Killer Queen Black is a 4v4 multiplayer combat experience with asymmetrical elements. In an endless war between bee nests, players will have to fight to protect their hive and dominate the other in a game with several dynamic combat strategies.

The game was originally created as an arcade cabinet in 2013 by Nik Mikros and Joshua DeBonis of NYC-based BumbleBear Game Studios. The arcade cabinets became so popular that the game was eventually released to Steam, where a small, but fiercely dedicated competitive community was created.

Since then, BumbleBear, and Chicago-based Liquidbit Games have been hard at work tweaking the game and listening closely to the player base. After several years of adjustments and great participation from the players, Killer Queen Black is ready to make the jump to the Nintendo Switch, the first time the game makes its way to a console. In bringing the game to the Switch, the developers worked hard to make acceptable changes, such as increasing the sprite size.

The goal of Killer Queen Black is to achieve domination. This involves three different tactics. The first is to fill your side of the hive with eggs. The second is to ride a massive snail to the other side to devour drones and devour the hive. The third is to slay the enemy queen multiple times. If any one of these tactics are successfully accomplished, the round is over.

Four players are part of the gold team, and the other four are part of the blue team. Among these teams, one player is selected as the queen. The rest are drones. From here, players can either fight offensively, defensively or directly. The Queen has a more offensive capability, being able to wield a sword or a laser cannon. However, it cannot ride the snail. The drones are more defensive and passive. They do not possess a direct offensive capability, but they can add a defensive ability that can give them an edge.

There is a secret to Killer Queen Black and that is deciding what to do with the eggs. players can either jump to land them in their hive or use them to upgrade themselves. The queen and drones, should they have an egg, can use special power-up pods. For the drones, they can have increased speed or a defensive shield, while the queen can gain access to the laser cannon or katana. What the players do with the eggs is entirely their prerogative, but teamwork will ultimately be the deciding factor between victory and defeat.

After a brief introduction to the game, I patiently awaited my turn to try the game out for myself. The booth was lined with people, and it was clear that they were having a great time with the game. There were cheers, surprises, and total upsets with the matches I witnessed. After a short while, it was time for me to fight the enemy team as a member of the Gold Team.

I was a drone for the entire match, but I did my part to fight back and win. Instantly, everything becomes chaotic. It becomes a battle to avoid the queen, avoid getting eaten and make precise jumps. The queen begins her assault on her drone, but so does ours. In our first round, my goal was collecting eggs for the hive and getting a feel for the overall game. As I collected eggs, the queen would take me down with a laser cannon. I would respawn, but each second lost is another for the enemy to gain. The other players used their eggs to collect for the hive. In about 1 minute or so, the first round was over. We had won, but the second round is where things would get even more interesting.

In the second round, I discovered the trick of using the eggs and used that to upgrade my drone. I not only got super speed but a deadly barrier that protected me. I then proceed with the original mission of adding more eggs to the hive as quickly and frantically as I could. We were about halfway through when I noticed that the enemy queen was targeting me. Using an up-close sword, she came in for the kill. I ran for my life but was saved by the shield. In fact, the shield defeated the Queen as she made contact. The round was over and we had won again. initially, I was terribly confused,  but it made sense. the golden team queen successfully defeated the enemy queen twice. The enemy decided to engage me and chose poorly. Now, I was fired up!

The next round, the enemy got a bead on us and was incredibly aggressive, winning the match by placing the most eggs. In another round, they hopped on a snail and proceed to make their way to our side, winning the match again. However, I changed up my tactics as well. I used an egg to become a speed drone, meaning I moved faster. I hopped on the snail, and the snail moved significantly faster tot he enemy side. I noticed that for a good few moments, no one was focusing on me. This was similar to capture-the-flag when you grab the flag, but no one can attack you. Despite getting eliminated by the queen, we planted enough eggs to win the round.

The last round was upon us and all hell broke loose. Between grabbing the eggs and avoiding the Queen, I jumped and ran for my life. I used the speed upgrade and kept trying to deliver the eggs as fast as humanly possible. Every moment felt like an eternity as we all fought hard to finish the match. Fortunately, after roughly one minute, we had delivered all the eggs and won the match. With the last round won and the match belonging to Gold Team, the demo was over.

Killer Queen Black is looking make a significant impact Nintendo Switch. The presentation is sharp, its control input is polished, and the asymmetrical action is absolutely incredible. I can easily imagine Killer Queen Black is great for those looking for a serious competition on their switch. The game may have an uphill battle, with the release of Super Smash Brothers Ultimate around the corner. However, this will definitely fit an interesting niche for Switch owners, especially with the knowledge of being able to conquer players over the wifi of a local Starbucks.

Killer Queen Black launches this Winter on Nintendo Switch.

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